We’re back at Off The Vine; Under The influence’s tasting room! At an exclusive wine AND gin tasting.
This tasting is quite special as it is being led by the owner and winemaker of the wines and gin himself, the one and only Joseph Dhafana. It is always endearing when one can have a tasting led by the person that is involved in the production of the wine as the personal connection to the wine really comes through, and the experience comes alive.
If your first thought is ‘Who is Joseph Dhafana?’, then I need you to put a pause on this article and run to Google. Better still, head to YouTube and search ‘Blind Ambition Trailer’. I’ll wait.
You’re back? Good. Now that you have familiarized yourself with the superstar, you can understand our collective excitement at this very special tasting. He is somewhat of a legend among us sommeliers. Although you would not be able to tell as he is a quiet, affable man who is very open and very inclusive. Were you to meet him, you would not know that he regularly rubs shoulders with A list stars such as Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade.
Personally, my first time meeting Joseph was in early 2020 at Sierra Brasserie when we were still blissfully unaware of Covid-19 and I was as excited this time around as I was then.
Walking into the tasting room I was served a refreshing glass of Cap Classique by Melissa Mwende which was a great start to the afternoon.
The room was buzzing with energy as everyone filed in, ranging from restauranteurs such as Wahome from Cellars Grill to wine enthusiasts that were personally invited by the importer.
The Mosi wines are named after the Victoria Falls – Mosi Oa Tunya- meaning, the smoke that thunders. An ode to Joseph’s homeland of Zimbabwe. The labels of these wines have a beautiful picture of the falls that have been digitally enhanced. If you get the ‘Label in Motion App’ and view the label through it, you are in for a surprise!
In fact, all of the Mosi products have a story behind their name, each very personal to Joseph and his journey.
We begin by tasting the Gin.
Mosi ‘Wamambo’ Gin. Wamambo meaning, from the clan of kings.
Joseph crafted this gin with mindfulness and culture at the heart of it. He infuses local and foreign ingredients to produce a gin that is worldly yet authentic. He uses 6 botanicals. Lipia Japanica being the main one. Called Zumbani in Zimbabwe, he forages this wild mint that has for centuries been used as a local remedy for various ailments from the bushes of Chirumhanzu. Silverleaf treeberg, Rooibos, Schezwan pepper from China are also included with Italian juniper rounding out the aromatics. The gin has aromas of citrus and thyme and is polished yet sweet. It can be enjoyed in different ways. Joseph prefers it with San Pellegrino sparkling water and a lady in attendance called Meera emphasized that she would have it on its own on the rocks. Victoria Munywoki loved its different dimensions and called it ‘dangerously good.’ We all agreed as we downed our last sips.
We then moved on to the wines:
Now, Joseph started his journey in South Africa as a refugee escaping strife in Zimbabwe. Making it through a journey that could very have easily killed him and his fellow asylum seekers, he found work as a gardener in Riebeeck Kasteel in Swartland. While he tended to the gardens and tilled the soils, I doubt that he knew that these very soils would be the birthplace of the wine that would help forge his legacy.
In his introduction, Joseph recalls with precision the very first time he had a glass of wine; 7th March 2010 at noon. This must have been the tinder that lit his path down this vinified path. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I know that he hated that first sip. Full disclosure, I haven’t at the time of writing this yet had the pleasure of watching the full documentary as it is not in circulation. I have been waiting with bated breath, and may get my hands on a copy.
Mosi ‘Mapopoma’ Sauvignon Blanc. Mapopoma meaning waterfall
As soon as Lynette handed me the glass, the aromas were jumping out at me. This is a cool climate Sauvignon Blanc with the classic herbaceous notes backed up with tropical fruit aromas. Grown in Walker bay, expect grass, citrus, blackjack, tomato leaf with a round full body and fresh acidity that is not too puckering. This wine on a warm afternoon with some crudité or on its own would be a total hit.
Mosi ‘Tinashe’ Chenin Blanc. Tinashe after his only Son
From bush vines planted in 1982, the grapes are hand harvested with great care. This, together with careful oaking, makes a wine that is amiable and well suited to food pairing with a wide array of dishes. The fruity citrus, stone fruit and nectarine flavours are anchored with a bit of body and just a touch of residual sugar to round out the wine.
Mosi ‘Flavian’ Syrah. Flavian after his Father who taught him to work hard
This Syrah is deeply coloured and whole bunch vinified giving it much softer tannins than would otherwise be the case. Full of ripe black fruits and pepper together with sweet spice and leather. Different wine portions are matured in 1st, 2nd and 3rd fill barrels and blended for perfect balance. Wine to be had on a cold day or at a dinner with a juicy piece of meat.
Mosi Harry Hartman Classic Styled Blend
Closing this tasting was a special collaboration between Mosi Wines and Harry Hartman Wine Company. A Bordeaux blend created to celebrate the South African Terroir and the talents of winemakers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc come together to make a wine that is robust with full body, medium-high tannins and ripe red and black fruit with a distant touch of herbaceousness.
Whenever you have a bottle of Mosi Wines in your possession, please pour a glass and think of me your wine friend. Mufaro!!